For the Time Being

The Extent of God's Fairness 11th Grade

In Annie Dillard’s non-fiction narrative, For the Time Being, Dillard explores the question: Is God fair? A belief in God's fairness (or unfairness) is a cultural aspect with a strong impact on the narrative. This question is studied and explained from Dillard’s viewpoint as compared to the Apostle Paul’s and those of the Jewish teachers, the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Akiva.

In one passage, found in the sub-chapter “Evil” on page thirty-one, Dillard presents the Jewish teacher, Rabbi Akiva, who proposes that God punishes good people throughout their lives but rewards them ‘eternally in the world to come'. He believes that God rewards ‘evil-doers’ in their lives, but then in turn punishes them in their afterlives. Dillard prefaces this passage by stating that Rabbi Akiva taught a ‘curious’ solution to an ‘ever-galling problem’, or; why do bad things happen to good people? The diction Rabbi Akiva uses helps to see a direct contrast between the ‘good’ people suffering ‘enormously’ and the prosperous ‘louses’ that are living in the ‘pink of health’. From the Jewish perspective, the Rabbi suggests that a profound belief in the afterlife is central to the belief in a just God.

The subsequent passage on page eighty-five is also...

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